Sri Lanka rights probe inadequate, say experts

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COLOMBO, Sep 19 (Reuters) A Sri Lankan presidential probe into rights abuses and murders, including some blamed on state security forces, does not meet international standards and looks set to fail, foreign experts said today.

Among the issues being investigated is the massacre of 17 aid workers last year. Nordic truce monitors have blamed the killings on state security forces, but a government official accused aid group Action Contre la Faim of being responsible through negligence and irresponsibility.

''Since the inception of the commission, no public inquiry has been held and no substantial progress has been made into any of the mandated cases,'' the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) said in a statement.

''The IIGEP considers that the commission is unlikely to have completed any case before the expiry of the commission's mandate in early November 2007,'' it added.

The damning assessment of the probe comes days before President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose rights record is under fire by a host of human rights groups, is due to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

It also comes as rights groups accuse the government of failing to protect civilians and human rights amid renewed civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels, and are calling for a United Nations rights monitoring mission on the island.

Rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed or abducted since last year when a civil war, that has killed around 70,000 people since 1983, resumed after a near four-year lull.

REUTERS SG PM1510

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